What makes people enter into and stay in toxic relationships for much too long?
Turns out that there are seven specific traits that belong to people who form the perfect personality model that attracts manipulators.
These traits include: conscientiousness, empathy, cooperativeness, optimism, fear of failure, attachment, and sentimentalism.
The list is by no means exhausted but it is enough to give us a feel for the person who falls for the promises spun by a highly problematic partner, whether in business or private life.
Now, these traits are fine to possess in a neutral to positive social context, meaning when you are surrounded by kind and benevolent people who are not set at exploiting these traits in you for their personal gain.
The moment you encounter a malevolent manipulator however, these traits instantly become your prime vulnerabilities.
Since our world consists of a diverse mix of personalities, it’s good to be aware of the traits within yourself as well as the MO of those who seek to profit from your naïveté.
In this series of articles, we will look at each trait, how it manifests, what it means and what you can do to protect yourself if you identify with it.
Conscientiousness — What Is It?
Basically it’s a desire to be good and do the right thing. It’s a need to be fair and just. In cases when conscientiousness reaches hyper levels, it can show itself as a drive towards perfectionism.
In a toxic relationship, it typically follows that the victim has high levels of conscientiousness and the perpetrator/oppressor has it at extremely low levels.
The desire to be good on the part of the victim/target is what keeps the dynamic going for multiple rounds of the abuse dynamic until the target’s exhaustion or collapse.
This desire is also deliberately exploited by the manipulator. The moment you don’t act “good,” you get punished. You think of yourself as less-than. To avoid the punishment, you keep quiet and do what’s expected.
Manipulators Seek Conscientious People
Because conscientious people are the perfect ones to do their bidding.
Conscientious people are tough. They tend to complete what they start. They are responsible. They are organized. They are hard working. They are ethical.
In other words, they are everything that the exploiting party is not.
The way they get you to do what they want is by deliberately praising and idealizing you early on to make you addicted to the feeling of being put on a pedestal.
At first, they give this praise away freely and generously. But soon enough, they start to introduce conditions and dose you — they give you less and less, only offering a micro dose when you do exactly what they want.
This process is a severe boundary violation that results in lowering the victim’s/target’s sense of self-worth.
It also creates emotional addiction.
What Should You Do If You Sense That Your Conscientiousness is Being Exploited?
Set healthy boundaries.
Conscientiousness is context-dependent. In the company of good people, it multiplies benefits and grows value. It spreads good vibrations and harmony.
When a malevolent manipulator enters the picture, withdraw and keep your assets close to your chest.
Don’t fall for cheap praise and flattery. If it sounds too good to be true (or too early to merit serious consideration), it probably is.
Know your value deeply so that you need no one to remind you.
Listen to your internal compass, your Soul GPS. If you feel physical revulsion towards someone, it’s probably there for a good reason. Trust it.
Finally, never want anything from a manipulator. The way they operate is to make you dependent on something they have as soon as possible. As long as you don’t need it, they have no power over you.
For a much more comprehensive video version of this post and a deeper dive into narcissism, check out the video below.
I hope this post was helpful! Stay vigilant, be confident. Be you.